Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Countdown to take off.....

It is a little after 2 pm here at Maacama. We leave for San fransisco Intl Airport in 5 hours. We will then check in our things and wait for 4 huors before our flight leaves. We leave sometime around 2 am. We're flying on an airline i've never heard of but is supposed to be decent: i hope it is! I'm exhuasted and as usual, have a to do list that is a whole page long. it has been difficult to get anything done here because we haven't been allowed phone or internet access. Inshallah soon my financial stuff will get all figured out, my scholarship application will be submitted, and i wont need to worry any more about money for a while. Inshallah. the kids i'm here with are great! i'm excited to see India with them, and they regard me as the wizened old woman of the group, lol. in some ways i legitimately am, but more than a few of them have come up to me to tell me that they really admire how independent i am, and how inspirational it is that i am mostly supporting myself on this trip. alot of them are straight out of high school and squarely in mommy & daddy's pocket, but enough of them have actually applied for financial aid that i don't feel like a complete poor kid surrounded by richie richs.

i like the fact that i will be in the all female travelling group, spirit. it's hilarious to me that i can't ever get away from city year! SPIRIT, discipline, purpose and pride........just kidding. that is seriously what i automatically think of when they call us by group. i also brought my young heroes bright yellow fleece (b/c i didnt own another one) and my two city year black hats, one winter, one summer. Kids here know the game "Big Booty" and "Ride that Pony" and i introduced the idea of a daily debrief session at the end of our days in india, along with the power tool "Hands UP!" Hands up is when the person who needs the group to quiet down will raise their arm in the air and everyone else who notices will stop talking and do the same. it then spreads because everyone is looking at everyone else. it's crazy how much the americorps experienec/city year experience has informed my view of how an organization should (and shouldnt) run, and how to communicate within a group dynamic. i find myself trying to explain some efective (or ineffective) way to do a task and trying to not start with the words "In city year we..." We had to work on our individual and group purposes & intentions last week, and they have all been included in our bound curriculum guides for the semester which we received today. my purpose is:
"To grow as a woman, a communicator, a writer, an artist and a humanitarian."
and my intention is:
"To move forward into every experience and opportunity with deliberate pupose and resolve to gain as much emotionally, culturally, artistically spiritually and intellectually as is possible for my soul, mind, heart and body."

We had what turned out (for me) to be a very emotionally overwhelming intentions ceremony on Sunday night where our teacher, Cassie, handed us over to our trip leaders. the studio was dark, and we blessed ourselves with burning sage before we entered the space. we sat in our usual circle, but we were all dolled up, in whatever ceremony garb we had. in the center of our circle were 18 votive candles, in a circle, and four votive candles at the cardinal direction points outside of it. the north south east and west represented our leaders, and the 18 candles were for us students. there was a large candle in the center of that circle from which we each lit our small ones. our teachers and the rest of the staff that has been a part of our experience so far were in the circle as well, with their own candles. the students began, each of us getting up when we felt ready, lighting our candle from the main flame and proclaiming our intention before the universe (and more locally, each other). to symbolize letting go of the things that might hold us back from these intentions, we each picked a small stone up from next to the large flame and dropped it into a small bowl/pool of water with a final plunk that accented each intention. it is an interesting thing, to be sitting in a dark room, surrounded by people, and feel completely alone with your intention. so often in life we don't voice our intentions, let alone recognize what they are. it is both a liberating and scary thing to crystalize your intention into one statement and tell the world. as each person declared their intentions, the light travelled back to the circle with each of us, and the room got brighter. hearing everyone's intentions was like looking into the darkness of the unknown in each of them, illuminated by their small candle. i felt a sense of personal (and possibly cosmic?) pressure before i said my intention aloud; i was the last one. i wanted to make sure that i remembered it exactly, and that i would say it with all of the resolve and importance that i have towards it. i spent so much of the summer writing about my purpose, intentions and expectations, i really doubted i would be able to distill pages and pages of writing and life experience into a one breath statement. it didn't end up being one breath, but i think it sums up what i want out of this next three months.

i'm excited to go, i'm excited to change, and most of all, i'm excited to come back. i'll have no way of measuring how i've changed until i go back to my old life and see how much of it still fits. in a more literal interpretation of that, apparently the gurls that take this trip usually gain around 15 pounds, since all we eat is rice, naan, chapatis, parathas, samosas and the most cooked carbs you can think of. there will be many blogs to come where i detail my eating, drinking and non eating/drinking habits i think. listening to the leaders (and my family) warn me about what i can and cannot eat and how to avoid getting horribly sick makes me think that it will be a topic that is going to come up alot.
it's almost an hour later! i gotta go pack!!! leaving in four hours!!! oh my gosh!!!!!!! gotta go!! keep those comments coming! love you all!!!

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